AUSTIN, Texas (September 25, 2006) Whole Foods Market and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are pleased to announce that the supermarket is the first retailer to offer Patagonian toothfish, commonly known as Chilean sea bass, from an Antarctic fishery that has been certified to the MSC's environmental standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

“The Patagonian toothfish fishers in South Georgia have worked hard to prove their fishing practices are sustainable, and it's great that they have met the MSC's independent environmental standard. Overfishing and illegal fishing remain a serious global threat to this species in other fisheries, so smart shoppers need to check for the eco-label before they buy,” said Jim Humphreys, MSC's Regional Director of the Americas. “Whole Foods Market is showing real leadership by backing this forward-looking fishery, and all of us can help that effort by asking for the MSC eco-label when we shop for this desirable fish.”

As part of its support of sustainable seafood practices, Whole Foods Market discontinued the sale of Chilean sea bass, also referred to as Patagonian toothfish, in all of its stores in August 1999, due to overfishing and a threat of extinction from modern-day pirates who had poached more than half of the world's sea bass catch. With the MSC's sustainable assessment and certification process which allows re-tracing the fish from the retail outlet to the boat that caught it, along with an intensive chain of custody system that Whole Foods Market must go through, shoppers can rest assured that the Chilean sea bass at Whole Foods Market with the distinctive blue MSC eco-label comes directly from a responsible, well-managed fishery.

“Since Whole Foods Market stopped selling Chilean sea bass, we have been hoping that we could offer it from a well managed source one day. We are thrilled that the MSC has identified a sustainable fishery for this popular fish prized for its rich, buttery flavor and wonderful versatility. Being flash frozen at sea preserves its flavor and smooth melt-in-your-mouth texture and helps this fish stand apart in the world of seafood,” said David Pilat, Whole Foods Market national seafood coordinator. “As a supermarket passionate about seeking out catches from well-managed sources, we want to remind shoppers that they have the power to encourage responsible fishing by choosing seafood from fisheries using ocean-friendly methods.”

One of the richest and most sought-after fish on the market, Chilean sea bass is a moist and tender white fish that flakes easily. Due to its high fat content, the fish is nearly impossible to overcook and is best suited to dry-heat cooking methods such as broiling, grilling, and sautéing. An array of sauces, spices, and herbs can help to enhance the mild, sweet flavor of this fish.

MSC-certified Chilean sea bass is wild-caught at depths of up to 5,000 feet from the small fishery in the Antarctic region around the island of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.

One of the most remote regions on the planet, ice blue glaciers and crystalline waterways characterize this polar region of southern South America. On the South Sandwich Islands, prevailing weather conditions and active volcanism make it difficult to approach by ship. In South Georgia, where 161 glaciers coat more than half the rugged island covered by permanent ice and snow, steep mountains that meet the sea in a series of high cliffs broken by large bays and inlets make picture-perfect scenery.

Chilean sea bass, certified to the MSC environmental standard in March 2004, joins 20 other fisheries worldwide that are currently certified to the rigorous MSC environmental standard. In total, more than 50 fisheries worldwide are engaged in the MSC environmental program, representing over three million tons of seafood.

Moody Marine Ltd., an independent certification organization, has led a comprehensive assessment to ensure that all aspects of the fishery meet the MSC environmental standard. Moody Marine and an independent team of experts examined the sustainability status of the fish stocks, the impact fishing has on the marine environment, and the effectiveness of the fishery management system. The certificate has been awarded to the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The MSC is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to creating sustainable fisheries around the world by using market-based incentives. Committed to the long-term viability of the global fish supply and healthy marine ecosystems, the MSC works with third-party certifiers to reward well-managed and sustainable fisheries.

As a supporter of the MSC since 1999, Whole Foods Market has an ongoing pledge to help make a difference when it comes to the responsible management of ocean resources. In addition to Chilean sea bass, Whole Foods Market offers the widest selection of MSC-certified seafood, including wild Alaska salmon, Pacific halibut, and New Zealand hoki.

NOTE: For delicious Chilean sea bass recipes, recipe photos, fish photos or to set up interviews, please contact Ashley Hawkins.